A little bit ago, I mentioned (via Hot Air) the curious case of how the SEIU bussed in a bunch of “protesters” to the home of an executive for Bank of America. A few interesting points were relevant here, including 1) the thinly veiled threat of violence that such a mob represents, 2) the intimidation factor of singling out a person’s private residence, and 3) the extortion factor, for the SEIU owes Bank of America around 90 million dollars.
Needless to say, I cannot think of any case in which showing up at someone’s private residence to protest the company that person works for is a valid political expression, especially when you bus in a few hundred people for it. That is nothing more that intimidation and the threat of mob violence, which unfortunately is par for the course for the political tactics of the Left.
Apparently, someone read my humble blog post and disagreed with me. Her rhetoric was very tired, cliched, and rambling, full of non sequitors about abortion, some kind of imagined “right wing violence, and something about the fact that conservatives own guns. Whatever.
So protesting a bank executive’s private house is a bad example of leftist politics but bombing abortion clinics and shooting doctors is somehow an positive example of right-wing politics? Just love how the Right tries to paint a non-violent protest in a bad light in a vain attempt to distract from it’s own wing-nuts that want to carry guns to political rallies and somehow think that’s an acceptable form of protest.
There are many points that can be addressed just in this brief response, the least of which is the fact that right-wing protests and rallies are not violence whereas left-wing protests typically are, and the fact that while some right-wing extremists have engaged in violent actions, they act alone and are condemned by those on the right, whereas violence by the left is justified, explained away, and even praised and encouraged.
Also key here is the attempt to present this “protest” at someone’s home as “non-violent” — sure, there was no direct violence, but the threat of violence was very explicit. The message was plain as day: “We know where you live, and we can get you.”
Well, the story is more interesting than just that. The SEIU, aside from having to deal with the bad publicity from this stunt, has opened itself to a civil lawsuit, and may have violated local laws by staging such a “protest.” Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy takes a look at the legal issues involved.
Nina Easton at Fortune writes about an SEIU protest at a Bank of America executive’s house, and reports that “hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch.” (Easton is Baer’s neighbor, and is apparently reporting based on her own personal observation.) Reader Sean Mattingly asks whether this could lead to a civil lawsuit against SEIU.
I’m inclined to say that it indeed can, if it is right that the SEIU protesters went onto Baer’s property, and if they did so beyond just having a couple of people come up briefly to ring the doorbell. Intentionally going on another’s property without his permission is a trespass, and can lead to compensatory and punitive damages. What’s more, if this was seen as part of the SEIU’s organizational plan, and not just as the actions of some stray low-level members, then I think the SEIU itself would be liable.
But he then takes a look at some of the local laws, and concludes that it doesn’t matter:
As I understand it, the SEIU picketing of the Bank of America executive’s residence took place in Montgomery County, Maryland. As it happens, that county has an ordinance that provides, “A person or group of persons must not picket in front of or adjacent to any private residence,” with “picket” defined as “to post a person or persons at a particular place to convey a message.” There are some exceptions (for marching without stopping at any particular home, picketing when the home is “the occupant’s sole place of business,” and picketing during a “public meeting,” which in context seems to refer to a meeting held within the house); but none of these apply here. Also, I think that the ordinance as it’s worded is content-neutral and therefore constitutional, since the classifications relate to what the home is being used for, and not to the content of the picketers’ speech.
Volokh also links (in the above quoted section) to a bit on Big Journalism that brings to light another interesting point: the SEIU was escorted by the Washington, DC police, despite being outside of the District.
According to Corporal Dan Friz, an MCPD spokesperson in Rockville, Maryland, the department received a disturbance call from one of Baer’s neighbors at 4:10 pm last Sunday. Four MCPD units arrived at Baer’s Greenville Rd. address at 4:15 pm. At least two Metropolitan Police Department units from the nearby District of Columbia were already at the scene when they arrived.
Why? Because police cars attached to the Washington MPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit had escorted the SEIU protesters’ buses to Baer’s home. Such cross-jurisdictional escort activity is not uncommon for both departments according to Friz and Metro Police Department spokesperson Officer Eric Frost. Still, the District police did not inform their colleagues of what was about to happen in one of their Maryland neighborhoods.
Although a protest permit is technically required in Montgomery County, in practice no citation is issued if the protestors disperse when requested to do so by the owner of the private property they occupy. The primary role of the Washington cops in this event was to protect the protesters. The D.C. officers had no authority to act to disperse the protesters even had the homeowner been present and asked them to vacate the private property.
So, let’s sum this up: A caravan of SEIU buses receive a Metropolitan (D.C.) Police Department escort to a private home in Maryland where the protesters, from all appearances, violate Montgomery County law by engaging in a stationary protest. The Montgomery County police were not informed by their cross-jurisdictional colleagues of the impending, unusually large protest pending in their jurisdiction.
What’s up with that? Had the mob decided to torch the house, the D.C. police would not have been authorized to intervene. Not their jurisdiction. They’re just escorts …
So a mob of almost 500 people shows up at someone’s private residence to “protest” the company that person works for, in violation of the law, and brings along a police escort to protect themselves from the person they’re intimidating — a police escort that is not empowered to protect the homeowner from any violence at the hands of the mob.
And here’s the kicker: this was defended by a leftist as an appropriate display of political dissent.
Really lets you know how the left things, I suppose.